April 14, 2021

Creative Transformation Of School Buses Into Mobile Tiny Homes

It used to be that the picture of the American dream included 2.5 children, a car to impress the neighbors, and a tidy home, the bigger the better, with a white picket fence. Fast forward to 2017 and cue the “record scratch” sound effect. Welcome to the new dream homes. While Norman Rockwell towns and big houses will likely always have some appeal, we’re seeing more and more minimalist apartments and tiny homes, adaptively reused spaces, and even treehouses!

And for those who aren’t rooted to a single location, converted vans and buses decked out as beautifully functional roaming homes. Lured by the idea of escaping the mortgage miasma and rent rut, a new generation of nomads is proving that a life fueled by wanderlust doesn’t require a trust fund. It seems that the American dream is getting a bit of a makeover.

Photo: Outside Found

Whether you’re considering a camper van, shipping container, or tiny home, there are many options for downsizing. One medium you may have not considered has been gaining traction in the #VanLife community: the school bus conversion, otherwise known as the skoolie.

Compared to smaller, more compact RVs, skoolies are a larger option for DIYers wanting to hit the road. They do take a lot of work; transforming one from a kid-hauling bus to a traveling home is no small task. They can also be expensive to fuel, hard to park in cities, and as some adventurers discover, more appealing as an idea than in reality.

What Is A Skoolie?

In a nutshell, a skoolie is a school bus that has been retired and decommissioned from use on a school route and then been converted into a recreational vehicle. Converting a school bus into a motorhome is not a new idea and has been around for decades. However, only in the last few years have people been more intrigued with the freedom that living in a skoolie could provide.

Skoolie Definition
A retired school bus repurposed by means of converting it into an RV or recreational vehicle. Skoolies are also known as a motorhome or a tiny home on wheels.

Skoolies have the amenties and space we want to be able to still travel, run our business online and launch our next research project. Things we were looking for in a skoolie were things like a comfy bed, a small living room, a kitchen to cook amazing meals in and space to tote around our camera gear.

Throughout the years, many folks have themselves converted an old bus into a unique RV home. Most people who embark on this DIY have the same goal—nomadic living. Here are two families who have made their dreams a reality.

OUTSIDE FOUND CAN HAVE ADVENTURES ANYWHERE.

Will and Alyssa are two bloggers and adventurers of the website Outside Found. They work for themselves, and as a result, can be anywhere. In the spring of 2015, they converted a bus into a tiny 200-square-foot home. The couple started by buying a 2001 GMC BlueBird for $5,500 and then spent months designing and preparing the layout.

Photo: Outside Found

Photo: Outside Found

Photo: Outside Found

When you step inside, the bright and airy space doesn’t feel like a bus at all. The area directly behind the driver’s seat is their “living room,” which includes a couch with integrated storage underneath. Moving beyond that space is their kitchen. It features the comforts of a more conventional home with a gas stove and fridge; the couple even says the kitchen is larger than they had in their first apartment. Across from the eating space is the office with a slightly lofted bedroom in the back.

Photo: Outside Found

Photo: Outside Found

Will and Alyssa’s home has a feature you wouldn’t expect with a converted school bus—a garage! The rear-end door opens to reveal their bikes, backpacking, climbing, and kayaking gear.

THE MIDWEST WANDERERS CAN COMFORTABLY GO OFF THE GRID.

Luke and Rachel Davis, aka the Midwest Wanderers, are another couple who bought their own school bus and now live life on the road. They traded in their 1,500-square foot conventional home and together with their young child (and dog), find “freedom, adventure, and interesting people” in a 220-square-foot skooly.

Photo: Midwest Wanderers

Photo: Midwest Wanderers

Photo: Midwest Wanderers

The project took the family a year and a half to complete, but once you’re inside, it’s easy to see why. Not only did the they transform the space into a cozy abode, but they also raised the vehicle’s roof. The ceiling is 20 inches higher than a conventional school bus, but the nearly two feet make a big difference. “It does not feel at all like a bus,” Rachel remarks.

Take a tour of the Midwest Wanderer’s converted school bus in the video below.

School bus conversion inspiration

Check out some other skooly transformations.

Photo: Hank Bought a Bus

Photo: Hank Bought a Bus

Photo: Hank Bought a Bus

Photo: Hank Bought a Bus

Photo: Hank Bought a Bus

Photo: Our Dharma Tribe

Photo: Our Dharma Tribe

Photo: Our Dharma Tribe

Photo: Our Dharma Tribe

Photo: Our Dharma Tribe

Photo: Jake Von Slatt

Photo: Jake Von Slatt

Photo: Jake Von Slatt

Photo: Jake Von Slatt

Photo: wpi Creative

Photo: wpi Creative

Photo: wpi Creative

Photo: wpi Creative